RSS

Tag Archives: Temptation

Temptation

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” (Matthew 4:1-4)

There are two particularly clear things to learn here: first, don’t let yourself get over-anything. The Devil attacks hardest (or, at least seems to) those who he believes to have the weakest defense. – We just have to ask ourselves to prove this, when would temptation affect us the most? When we haven’t slept in a week, or when we’re well rested? (Now, for the record, I’m not saying that Jesus’ fasting was something wrong. Fasting can be a good thing. But during the time you fast, you need to be particularly careful and watchful.).

The second thing which Jesus shows us, is to use Scripture to defend ourselves when Satan attacks. Christ, who is the living word of God, is the only way we can defend against Satan. By ourselves, we’re completely helpless to do anything except give in to temptation. Even Adam and Eve, who had everything perfect, and who actually talked and walked with God, still gave into temptation. So who are we, who don’t exactly live in a perfect World, or have ever seen God, much less talked to Him, think that we can stand up against Satan’s attacks by ourselves? We can’t! Our only hope in every matter, is to run to the Word – to run to Christ. He died to save us, He won’t let us fall to Satan if we ask for help.

So, in general, the point is this: we shouldn’t starve ourselves physically (except for short periods of fasting), or Spiritually, by depriving our Spirit of the Word. That, and when we’re attacked by Satan, regardless of our physical condition, we should always run to Christ for protection.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
3 Comments

Posted by on May 26, 2012 in Delivered Through Love

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Temptation and Preparation

Hello again!

Today we’ve finished the book of Nahum, so we’re taking a slight break from the Old Testament prophets, and are starting on a book we’ve actually never done before; Mark. — This is what God gave me today in His word:

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him. (Mark 1:9-13)

Now this is an extremely interesting story. First we Jesus baptized, then God declares that He is well pleased with Jesus… And then, seemingly out of the blue, Jesus is brought to be tempted for forty days and forty nights by Satan! Now, there are two things we can learn from this:

  1. That being tempted isn’t a sin.
  2. That after God really speaks to us in some way, we can expect to undergo temptation.

Being Tempted Isn’t a Sin

Everyone is tempted to something which is sinful, every minute of every day. Even if the temptation only comes in the form of wanting to not ‘mediate on Scripture’ (something which the large majority of people, for the large majority of the time, pretty much fail to do). But with that said, it’s not a sin to be tempted! People sometimes get the idea in their heads that being tempted to, as in Jesus’ case, test the Lord, is a sin in of itself. This isn’t true, and only serves to unnecessarily defiles the conscience!

Now, in some things temptation comes in the form of thinking angry thoughts towards someone else, and in that case, even just thinking those thoughts (whatever they may be) is a sin. There is an important distinction between temptation, and imagining doing something; ones just fine, while the other is a sin. The Devil will tempt everyone, even our High Priest, Jesus, who was without sin, “has been tempted in every way,”.

This may seem like a small matter, but in reality it’s very important. Thinking that temptation is sin can lead us to think we may not even be Christians for the amount of “sin” we commit every minute by being tempted.

If God Has Given Us a Special Revelation, We Can Expect Greater Temptation

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. (2 Corinthians 12:7)

Yes, it’s true we are tempted often enough as is. Yet the Devil takes a special pleasure in tormenting the Christian who has recently had an intimate time with God, or been given a revelation of some sort in God’s word. We see this very clearly in Paul, who was taken up to the third Heaven, and afterwards was given a messenger of Satan to torment him… The point of saying that, being that if we feel God has given us some “great revelation”, we shouldn’t be surprised if Satan redoubles his efforts on us.

In general, this is what we should take away from this: being tempted isn’t a sin, and we can expect even greater temptation when God gives us even greater revelations; thus meaning we should put our security even more in God (the Christian equivalent of getting ready to deflect attacks).

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
1 Comment

Posted by on March 22, 2012 in Delivered Through Love

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

The Works of the Devil, and the Incredible Power of God

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)

The Devil “blinds” the unbeliever to the Gospel; he puts bandages over their eyes and tells them that he’s helping them regain their sight, or he sticks them into a dark room somewhere, known as their mind, as leaves them to their own devices, or he blasts them with  so many different opportunities and temptations at once that they go Spiritually (Paul is, of course, talking Spiritually and not physically when he says that the Devil ‘blinds them.’) blind from lack of using their (Spiritual) eyes. Take your pick; he uses all those and more. With that being said though, we can pretty much narrow down the Devil’s blinding tactics to three general things:

  1. He gives them a religion which tells them work really hard, and maybe one day they’ll “gain inner-sight.” (i.e. he puts (blinding-)bandages over their eyes…)
  2. The Devil leaves them to their own thoughts, allowing themselves to, with the occasional prod in the wrong direction by him, realize the “pointlessness of life,” and naturally dig themselves into a deeper, darker, prison of depression.
  3. He puts so many things in front of the unbeliever’s physical eyes, they forget they even have Spiritual ones.

Let’s look at the first one:

1. The Devil “Gives” Them a Religion of Works

Everyone knows that they’ve done wrong. It’s simply a fact of life. Even though they may have, after a while of working at, managed to somewhat silence their conscience, they at one time realized that they did wrong. Everyone then, in turn, realizes that need to do something to stop doing wrong. – Note here, that guilt is caused by the Devil, who loves to point out what we’ve done wrong. Yet even so, is not in of itself evil. Rather, it can lead us to either a religion of works, which is wrong, or a relationship with God, which is very right. It’s just that the Devil has developed myriad ways to use guilt to his advantage. – Which is where Buddhism, Catholicism, and other religions of works come in.

The law tells us we must do something to save ourselves, Jesus tells us we are to do things out of our love for Him. Not to save ourselves, but because we should have a desire to serve God.

2. The Devil Leaves Them to Their Thoughts, With Occasional Prodding From Him

An extremely dangerous position, is when an unbeliever gets alone with his thoughts, and just starts thinking about life in general, and what part s/he plays in it. The Devil loves pointing out just how “pointless” life is, and how you’re “so insignificant that you don’t even matter to anyone. If you died, people wouldn’t even give you a second look.”.

Jesus came to give life. Not just life, but meaning to life! The Devil would like nothing better than mass suicides, Jesus would like nothing more than to see everyone come and find His light; to become His brothers, sisters, and coheirs, and to find protection from the Devil’s attacks in His armor (see: Ephesians 6).

3. He Blinds Them Spiritually, By Giving Them Too Much to Look at Physically

This is where temptation really comes in. The Devil, if he can’t turn people to works, or to depression, will give them that job opportunity that they always wanted… Granted, it requires I work two more hours a day, and always work Sunday. But, hey, who cares? Or he’ll simply bombard the unbeliever with so many temptations at once that the poor, undefended unbeliever will surely fall under the pressure.

If you are an unbeliever today, don’t let yourself be blinded! Come to Jesus, and His all en-compassing light. Ask Him to come into your heart and transform it; ask Him to open your eyes.

It’s only with Christ’s strength that anyone can resist temptation; it’s only possible with the Shield of Faith to block the fiery darts the Devil likes to throw. Which is exactly why Paul urges us in Ephesians to put on the armor of God! What honest soldier would go into a battlefield without armor? Than why would we, soldiers in the Lord’s armory, go into the battlefield of temptation naked? Paul sums it up perfectly in two verses:

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. (Ephesians 6:10-11)

We are to be strong in the Lord, and we are to put on the armor of God. These two things will enable us to overcome the, “devil’s schemes.” Whatever those ‘schemes’ may be.

Finally, remember that our God is powerful, no matter what the Devil tempts us with, He is always able to keep us and protect us. He never runs out of strength to funnel to us.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

God Will Always Make a Way Out

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. (1 Corinthians 10:13-14)

Temptation can be anything: a new bike, a new (better) job, anger, family, even reading the Bible (not applying the Bible, but reading it anyway, is a natural pathway to pride) can be a temptation to falling to Satan. Yet it’s important to realize that, no matter what temptation we face, it isn’t something that a hundred others haven’t already gone through before you a hundred times. The actual reason this is an important realization, is because of a couple of things: first, it puts the suffering (from temptation), whatever that may be, into its proper perspective. In addition, it’s just, in general, encouraging to know that you aren’t the only one whose had this problem.

Temptation is dangerous, yes. Just as dangerous as the sin it can produce. But with that being said, God will always provide a way out. And that, right there, is the second biggest difference between an unbeliever and a believer. – The first biggest difference is, of course, that we’ve been saved; washed clean by Jesus’ blood. – An unbeliever will fall, fall, and fall again. A Christian, though he may stumble, will never fall; will never become inescapably snared in the Devil’s trap.

Even though a Christian will never be completely trapped, as God will always create a way out, we should still “run from idolatry” of all kinds. Yes, God always makes a way out, but let’s make an effort to make sure He’ll (almost) never have to! Let’s turn around and run towards God, and growing into His image!

So, to summarize: God will always provide a way to overcome temptation, Christians may stumble but will never fall, and we’re supposed to run as fast as possible away from idolatry.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Our Sabbath

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in his word:

Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. (Hebrews 4:1-2)

The, “them” The Writer (who from now on we’ll refer to as, “he”) is referring to, is the Israelites (you can see that in chapter 3). With that established… He says here that “the message they heard did not benefit them,” why didn’t it benefit them? Because, “they were not united by faith with those who listened.” How does that figure? How could anyone actually be united with someone else by faith? Do we need to be untied with these people by faith?

Who exactly are ‘the people who listened’? … 

For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, “As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest,'” although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. (Hebrews 4:3)

Seeing as he’s talking about the Israelites, who weren’t able to enter the promised land because of their disobedience, it’s safe to assume the ones who listened are Moses, Joshua and Caleb. Seeing as the afore-mentioned all said they could take Canaan and what with the giants, everyone would have had to believe them by faith. But he isn’t talking about that it seems. In fact, it seems we’ve sort of left behind the whole, “promised land” idea and replaced it with, “rest”. He continues:

For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” And again in this passage he said, “They shall not enter my rest.” Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, (Hebrews 4:4-9)

“there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God,” This does not mean we have to continue keeping the Sabbath like the Israelites did. On the other hand, it does mean we still need to keep the Sabbath. Not physically however, but Spiritually. ‘He’ is talking about our rest is Jesus. This why he talks about the Sabbath in context with not hardening our hearts. And what is there to harden our hearts against, except the same thing that everyone today seems to have hardened their hearts against? i.e. The Gospel of Jesus.

The point? We have a promised land just like the Israelites did/do. it’s just we don’t have to fight for our’s (it’s Heaven). There is still a Sabbath rest, it’s just not the weekly one the Israelites had. Instead, as long as we have Jesus, we have his rest. – But now there’s a question, “what does it mean to have Jesus as our Sabbath rest?” It mean’s temptation no longer is unbeatable. It means our Spiritual life can rest in Jesus. The point is simply that through Jesus, the Sabbath is fulfilled.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 29, 2011 in Delivered Through Love

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Procedure of Grace

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in his word:

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man? Paul must mean, “no temptation has overtaken you yet that is not common to man.” Because of course, any struggle I have is completely unique to me, I may have a struggle that is common to man, but…

First, What does Paul mean when he talks about how, “no temptation has overtaken them that isn’t common to man?” …

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. (1 Corinthians 10:14-15)

It’s an important, even vital thing to realize that your struggles (as are mine) are in fact, common to people in general. The reason for the importance of this is for one, it allows us to share our struggles more easily with accountability partners.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)

Also, people who think they’re case is, “unique” will typically (but not always) stop being very useful to people in general. But that isn’t the point of what Paul is saying. He’s talking about God, “making a way” for us to endure temptation. But why doesn’t God simply take away the temptation? Doesn’t he have the power? Of course he does! So why doesn’t he use it?

6 Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, 7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me,“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:6-9)

We’re given “thorns” in our flesh to keep us humble, this humility is the goal of the whole procedure. That is what it is too; a procedure in which a thorn is put in, a dose of power is injected and the whole thing is covered with a thick layer of grace. In one case I can think of, it was different though. God was the one being injected with nails, while we jeered, only instead of grace he only got wrath. That procedure, is the one that gave us the grace, along with making us sons of God.

Second, what exactly does God consider, “beyond our ability”? … He is God after all, how could he know how much I can handle? It’s not like he has ever been temped (right?).

The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? (1 Corinthians 10:16)

God knows how much we can handle, because for one he made us more than that though, he’s experienced the temptation himself. One would think that perhaps it may have been just a little tempting to do as the voices all around Him (meaning Jesus) were jeering him on to do; to simply release Himself from the cross. But he’d rather suffer for us than have us die (eternally).

The point being that, simply put, God will and has provided a way for us in every circumstance. the “way” being the way, also known as, “Jesus Christ”; the way, the truth and the life. He’s the one who provides a way to endure temptation, provides a light of truth where there is the darkness of deception all around, and gives us eternal life trough Himself.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: